Creating a dieted catered to your lifestyle and goals can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be.
Don’t waste your time browsing through article after article to find out how to calculate your BMR, or figure out your caloric intake or even how to mould it around your lifestyle. Instead, read it all here, in this three-piece article. All in all, it will provide you all the information to work out your caloric intake, the jist of how to maintain a healthy lifestyle; and for you athletes, the macronutrient ratio to build muscle or lose fat. Whether you are 6 foot 2 carpenter aiming to lose some fat, or you are 5 foot 7 working an office job aiming to bulk up this winter. Part one is going to give you a run down of to steps to building your own diet based on you and your life.
Part Three: Macronutrient Ratios for Athletes – Coming soon
Before we get started, there is just one more point I would like to mention and that is: Every single human on earth has a unique body. Therefore, there is no such calculator that will work out your “perfect” caloric intake for whatever goal you may have. Instead, calculators such as the Harris-Benedict Equation (the one used below), will give you a rough idea of how to start. It is up to you to tweak the calories through trial and error as time goes on so that it can more effectively help you achieve your goals. With that all said and done, let’s get started!
Step One – BMR
First things first, calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR). This will be the first of four steps to working out your required calories catered for you. By working out your BMR, you will have an idea of how many calories your body would burn if you were to do absolutely nothing but rest for 24-hours.
Men (kg/cm) = 66 + (13.8 x weight in kg) + (5 x height in cm) – (6.8 x age in years)
Men (lb/inch) = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)
Women (kg/cm) = 665 + (9.6 x weight in kg) + (1.8 x height in cm) – (4.7 x age in years)
Women (lb/inch) = 665 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
Here’s a link to a BMR calculator to speed up things. Another option is to use your computer calculator in the start menu in case you can’t find one physically.
Step Two – Lifestyle
Now that you have worked out how much calories are required to maintain your internal mechanisms without doing a shred of work the whole day. Next up is to incorporate your lifestyle by multiplying your BMR with one of the options below. Pick one that best describes you!
x1.2 Sedentary – For those with little to no exercise and working a desk job.
x1.375 Light Activity – For those that are involved in light exercise or sports 2-3 days a week.
x1.55 Moderate – For those that are involved in exercise or sports 3-4 days a week.
x1.725 Very Active – For those that are involved in vigorous exercise or sports 4-5 days a week.
x1.9 Extremely Active – For those that are involved in strenuous exercise or sports consistently and have a physical demanding job.
Note: By completing step 2, you have now calculated your calorie maintenance. To be even clearer, this is how much calories you should consume each day to maintain your current body weight.
Step Three – Taking into Account Your Goal
In this step, you will work out how many calories to decrease or increase depending on your goal.
The aim when bulking is to build muscle, while minimising fat accumulation. An alternative route is dirty bulking, which allows you to eat whatever you wish without a care of how much fat you accumulate. However, this is highly advised against, because losing all that fat afterwards is going to be a tough task!
But let’s assume you wanted to minimise as much fat accumulation as possible while bulking. To do this, you will want to have a slight surplus above your calorie maintenance. So ideally, you will want to increase your caloric intake by 300 each day give or take. Why 300? Well, 3,500 calories is equivalent to 1 pound. So by bumping your caloric maintenance by 300 each day for a whole week, technically you should increase your weight, whether it be fat and/or muscle (hopefully it’s mostly muscle) by just a little more than half a pound.. (The total increase above your maintenance each week will be 2,100 calories).
As mentioned before, for those individuals that don’t care about the amount of fat they pack on, you are free to have a daily surplus of 300 calories to ensure that you maximise every minute of your bulk.
Note: If you think 300 calories surplus is not enough or too much, then adjusted it accordingly based on what you think will be best to achieve your goal.
When cutting I would assume that everyone’s goal is to reduce the amount of body fat while maintaining muscle mass. Because who’d want to waste all their hard work over winter and come out looking like a skeleton in summer. As a result, I’d recommend going on a calorie deficit between 200 – 400 from your maintenance. Why? Well, since this amount of caloric deficit isn’t too large, your body will instinctively be more inclined to burn fat opposed to muscle.
And for those individuals that don’t like to restrict their diet. You always have the option of eating a surplus of calories while performing cardiovascular exercises. The goal when cutting is to have a calorie deficit at the end of the day and this can be accomplished by either restricting your dieting or performing some physical activity or a mixture of both. If you intend to do this, I highly recommend HIIT such as stop-start sprinting opposed to LIST to effectively burn fat and build muscle.
Try not to lose more than 1 pound of fat each week as this will minimise the amount of muscle mass loss. As mentioned above, if you think 200 – 400 calories is not enough of a deficit to achieve your goal, then adjust it accordingly!
Here is a video by Michael Kory that summarises the steps so far.
Step Four – Adjusting your Calories Around your Week
This is where it get’s a little tricky! On day’s that you do perform exercise or sports, you will want to bump your calories up a little more than on the days where you sit at home lounging around essentially doing nothing. Therefore, you should not be eating the same amount of calories every day. Given, that your aim is to make the most of your calories.
Step 1 – If I were a male, weighing at 80kg, 170cm tall and 23 years of age. My BMR would be 1863.6 calories.
Step 2 – I go to gym 3-4 days a week while working a retail job, so I’d say I have a moderate lifestyle. Multiply my BMR by 1.55 and I get 2,888.58 calories. This is the amount of calories I should consume each day to maintain my current body weight based on my lifestyle.
To make it easier for myself, I am going to round this number up to 2,890 calories.
Step 3 – My goal is to lose fat. So I decrease my calories by 300. Leaving my caloric maintenance at 2,590.
Step 4 – Say I wanted to plan my whole week, I would multiply 2,590 calories by 7 giving me a total number of 18,130; the amount of calories I need to consume this week.
This week, I intend to hit the gym on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and rest on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The goal is to get a weekly total caloric intake of 18,130, after I’ve allocated my caloric intake for each day. So my calories would like something like this:
|Friday (Gym – Heavy Day)||3,090||
Total: 0 (Balances)
As you can see, I have adjusted the caloric intake based on the amount of physical activity of each day. On days that I rest (Tuesday, Saturday) I decreased my calories by 300. Because Friday is going to be my heavy day I intend to boost my calories a bit more than my other training days (surplus of 500 from my caloric maintenance). As a result, I had to decrease my calories from a rest day by another 200 (decreased by a total of 500 from my caloric maintenance), which I chose Thursday leaving it with 2,090 calories.
On days I went to the gym, I boosted my calories a little bit due to the fact that I was going to be using more energy on those days. Hence why, there’s 200 above my caloric maintenance on Monday, Wednesday and Sunday. And an addition of 500 on Friday, simply because I planned on working extremely harder at the gym than on my other days.
For those that are a little confused as to why I decreased my calories on my rest days by 300 opposed to 200 is because I am hitting the gym 4 times while resting 3 times a week. The days do not balance out, and, as a result, I need to decrease my rest days just a little more to make up for the fourth day of gym. To make sure you have worked caloric intake correctly. Implement a similar table to mine, and calculate the balance so that it accumulates to 0. If it doesn’t add to 0, then something is wrong!
All in All
There you have it, how to work out your diet based on your lifestyle through the traditional way. The next step is to work out your macronutrient ratio’s (Carbohydrate/Protein/Fats) based on your goals.
Which I will be explaining in part two (Macronutrient Ratios For A Healthy Lifestyle) and part three (Macronutrients for athletes).
Best of luck!